Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Environmental Defenders

Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world to be an environmental defender. But this doesn’t stop activists, territorial guards, Indigenous communities, and environmental associations from doing their job.

Policymakers have taken some steps to address the violence. The Escazú Agreement was adopted to facilitate access to information and increase justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2022, the first ever UN Special Rapporteur on Environmental Defenders took office with a mandate to enforce the protection of environmental activists by their national governments, and the E.U. is voting on due diligence supply chain regulations that would require companies to avoid human rights and environmental violations.

This article series documents some of the work of environmental defenders in different Latin American and Caribbean countries, highlighting both the dangers they face and their achievements in defending their habitats and communities.

We aim to inform, motivate, and connect an English-speaking public with the inspirational stories of grassroots defenders’ work in Latin America and give defenders from countries where their battles are under-reported a greater voice.

We are working in partnership with trusted Latin American independent outlets. Find a full list, as well as further details of the series, here.

Help us bring these stories to a wide audience by sharing them widely on social media.

Have you got a story for us?
We’re looking for stories which document the work and amplify the voices of grassroots EDs in Latin America. We’d like to show a geographical diversity in our reporting. Tone: inspirational, motivational, accessible. See our full pitching guide here.


Leydy Pech: the Mayan Beekeeper who took on a corporate giant

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Ledy Pech Martín is a Mexican Indigenous beekeeper who led the fight against the multinational giant, Monsanto, and won. She is an environmental defender who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness over pesticide use and its effects on the natural habitat of bees, as well as the honey supply that is crucial to the livelihoods of indigenous Mayans in the Yucatán peninsula. 

Colombia: open-pit mine threatens municipalities near Bogotá

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In August this year, the owners of two fincas in the Gualivá province of Cundinamarca, just outside of Bogota, were sent expropriation orders by...

We Are Guardians

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Edivan Guajajara is a filmmaker and activist from the Arariboia Indigenous Land whose work centres on the natural world and Indigenous struggle. He has come together with Chelsea Greene and Rob Grobman from One Forest in the documentary We Are Guardians, released this year, to tell the story of Indigenous struggle against illegal encroachments in the Amazon.

Defending the Rights of Nature in Ecuador with Natalia Greene

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LAB speaks to Natalia Greene, who was instrumental in bringing the Rights of Nature into Ecuador’s Constitution in 2008, about the environmental movement in Ecuador, the complexities of the current political situation and deteriorating security.

Ecuador: community vs the gold miners

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Indigenous communities in Azuay, Ecuador, are fighting Canadian gold mining company Dundee Precious Metals, whose Loma Larga mine threatens to pollute the Kimsakocha moorlands and its rivers.

Who will save Yasuní?

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Ecuadorians go to the polls on 20 August 2023, to elect both a new president and 137 legislators for the country's National Assembly. They will also be given the choice to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in a referendum, where a ‘Yes’ vote will shut down all oil extraction in Yasuní National Park.

Ecuador: the Napo goldrush and the rise of the narco-garimpeiros

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When large mining companies such as TerraEarth withdrew from gold mining in Ecuador's Napo province, they paved the way for smaller scale illegal miners to move in in force, financed by cocaine money, with terrible consequences

Ecuador: Napo goldrush begins with big mining

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Chinese owned TerraEarth started mining for gold in Ecuador's Napo province. After numerous instances of pollution of water sources, encroachments and other violations, court and regulatory action eventually forced the company to withdraw -- for now.

Honduras: defending a mountain for 30 years

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Pedro Pinto, 67, has spent over half his life defending the environment in the western region of Ocotepeque, Honduras. In November 2022, two of his vehicles were burned by an unknown party, he suspects that they were enemies of his work as an environmental defender.

‘Fake environmentalist’ campaign against Guapinol defenders

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A Twitter campaign smearing the reputation of environmental activists in Honduras is a coordinated effort to protect mining interests.

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